Boss, Change Title Of Padmavati: Shobhaa De's Advice To Bhansali

Published: November 14, 2017 14:34 IST
Bhansaliji, I have a solution for you...

Keeee mushkeeeeel! As Bongs constantly moan and groan each time they encounter a problem. The rest of us use a much ruder expression that begins with an 'F', and ends with a 'K'. Somehow, I don't see Bhansaliji being this crass. He is an aesthete, remember? Every line, every sentence, every shot in his movies, is imbued with bhaari meaning. But as a practical Maharashtrian woman myself, I am very solutions-driven and want to protect Padmavati. This is my solution: Bhansaliji is Gujju. An unusual Gujju. He first dreams. Then thinks. Someone pays for his thinking by making that dream come true on the screen. And millions of fans feel happy. Majaa avechchh! His movies are the ultimate fantasies - wives dance with mistresses. Husbands and lovers watch the spectacle. Someone dies of a broken heart. Another dies because of unrequited pyaar. The women die, anyway. All these events are staged against the backdrop of magnificent havelis, palaces and battlefields. It's all very dramatic and watchable. But history, it ain't! Who is looking for history? Or even logic? Does anybody question Star Wars? Has even a single affronted viewer stoned theatres when The Ten Commandments was screened, and Charlton Heston played Moses? That's why we go to the movies! To escape. Relax. Feel enchanted and transported to the magical kingdom of cinema. But all this is wasting space and precious time.
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Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Padmavati which reportedly cost Rs 200 crore will release on December 1

My immediate concern is to help Bhansali deal with those who want to stall his magnum opus, titled Padmavati. Boss...why not change the title? Tweak it? You have done that before with Ram-Leela... do it again! Whoever knows Ram-Leela by its revised and rather tedious name? I am not even bothering to recall it. Bhansali can call his new film Leelavati or Amravati or Pushpavati, or any other vati. Even Chitor can be called Kitor, Bitor, Mitor. Who cares? Call the Raja, Raja. And the villain, Badmash. Nobody will mind. If the Ghoomar dance is a problem, rechristen it Jhoomar. It is your film! You can rename sab kuch, aaram se. May cost you some. But better that, than have the crazies baying for your blood. And depriving us of watching the film.

I have a selfish interest here, I must admit. I am dying to book my ticket - first day, first show. Like millions of others. I am not watching it as a historically accurate documentary. In any case, even history has many versions, depending on who witnessed what, and which person faithfully chronicled those events. Even this creates problems. Two people don't 'see' things in the exact same way ever. The art of seeing is also selective and subjective. The many rich and varied histories of the world are still being written and challenged. So it is with movies based on folklore, myths and popular legends.
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Rajput agitators have warned the ruling BJP government in Rajasthan of consequences if the movie is released

Those who are baying for Bhansali's blood and talking about Rajput honour being battered, sound either semi-literate and ignorant, or politically motivated and vicious. All recent protests in our great and good land, appear to be politically motivated. One just has to refer to the election schedules of our states, to see the obvious connections. Since India is a country that is permanently in election mode, hiring professional protestors is very easy. For a price, they will protest against anything or anyone. In fact, there are full time protestors who first strike deals with 'offended' parties and then negotiate for higher rates from their adversaries. In such a climate, movies become the softest targets. Attacking a big movie and threatening the makers, is a swift and cheap way of hitting the headlines.

My suggestion to rename the film, was said half-in-jest. Why should anybody be coerced to rename anything? Or, be held to ransom? Why should Sanjay Leela Bhansali have to plead with random people? And screen his film for some arbitrary committee, that will then decide its fate! Rubbish! Padmavati belongs to our imagination as much as to Bhansali's. We will decide whether or not the movie appeals to us. It's time to stand up to cultural bullies and do it as one. What 'hurt sentiments' are we talking about? Have those 'hurt' people watched the film? No! Hurt by what? Rumour? Conjecture? Guesswork?

Maaro goli!

Sanjay Leela Bhansali, we have full faith in your sensibilities. And we also have full faith in our own sensitivities. History often deceives and lies, distorts and exaggerates. Just like movies. If we don't judge history, why should we pre- judge cinema? Bring it on! Dikhao, dikhao...ignore the protestors. 

One chhota sa question: How come your powerful Bollywood colleagues have still to show solidarity and stand shoulder to shoulder with you? Itni jealousy, kya?

(Shobhaa De is an established writer, columnist, opinion shaper and social commentator, who is considered an authority on popular culture.)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

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